He has been referred to as ‘Asia’s king of pop’ and he is also the first Sri Lankan to sign a deal with a major international record label, but for Alston Koch enough is not enough and he also feels it is time Asia reached the top of the world music industry.
Alston was inducted into the Hard Rock Café hall of fame at a ceremony in Thailand last year for his achievements in the Asian music industry over the past several years.
Over the years Alston, who lives in Australia, has befriended several big names in the music and movie industry as well as in the sporting arena, especially cricket.
In Colombo for the Christmas holidays, Alston told the Colombo Gazette that he hopes one day an Asian, be it a Chinese, Indian or even Sri Lankan, will reach the top of the world music industry and be recognized for his country of birth instead of the western country where he makes his mark.
“There are some Asians including Indians who have made it to the top but they are not recognized for the country they were born, instead they go as a British singer or an American singer, etc. Asia has talent to make a mark as Asians and not as a westerner,” he said.
Alston recalled how in 2005 during an MTV world music ceremony in Thailand, international pop sensation Alecia Keys referred to him as a “superstar” after being impressed with his music achievements.
MTV had invited Alston to present and sing at the show as the proceeds from the telecast were to be used to assist countries in the Asian region, including Sri Lanka, which was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.
“When I was invited to be a presenter on the show alongside some big names I was shocked. But the organizers said they wanted me as I had made a name for myself in Asia and not just Sri Lanka,” he said.
Alston also recalled while in Thailand for the show he was asked to perform separately for the world music singers after the international acts had refused to do so as they did not have their bands and other equipment at hand.
“Alecia Keys was very impressed by my performance and she later had coffee with me and asked me about Sri Lanka and about myself,” he said.
Alston made it big with his hit single ‘Disco Lady’ back in the 70’s and later he achieved more success when he formed the bands ‘Darktan’ and later ‘S-witch’ in Australia.
In 2008 Alston stormed the charts with a song dedicated to the Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan.
The Murali Song became a hit in three continents after the bowler overtook Australian Shane Warne’s record for the most number of Test wickets.
The song was recorded in one of the best recording studios in the world in Melbourne, Australia with award-winning conductor, arranger and producer Jarrad Gilson.
Jarrod Gilson believes it is one of the best tribute songs written and had remarked that he now understands why triple Grammy award winner Alicia Keys introduced the singer Alston Koch to the World at a recent MTV awards ceremony as ‘a legend and a superstar’ as he is a dedicated and disciplined perfectionist.
Alston Koch was appointed as an Ambassador for Tourism by Sri Lanka in 2008 after he had achieved three Gold Records and 18 international releases.
Alston says now digital music has overtaken live music and that has in a way affected the industry in Asia which has potential.
As for his future plans Alston says he has something big but he will reveal all when the time is right.
(Interview by Easwaran Rutnam)